Capitol Visitor Center:
Update on Status of Project's Schedule and Cost As of June 28, 2006
GAO-06-827T: Published: Jun 28, 2006. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 2006.
We are pleased to be here today to assist Congressin monitoring progress on the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) project. Our remarks will focus on the Architect of the Capitol's (AOC) progress in achieving selected project milestones and in managing the project schedule since Congress's May 24, 2006, hearing on the project. As part of this discussion, we will address a number of key challenges and risks that continue to face the project, as well as actions AOC has taken or plans to take to address these risks. In addition, we will discuss the status of the project's costs and funding. Our remarks today are based on our review of schedules and financial reports for the CVC project and related records maintained by AOC and its construction management contractor, Gilbane Building Company; our observations on the progress of work at the CVC construction site; and our discussions with the CVC team (AOC and its major CVC contractors), AOC's Chief Fire Marshal, and representatives from the U.S. Capitol Police. We also reviewed AOC's construction management contractor's periodic schedule assessments and daily reports on the progress of interior wall and floor stonework.
Since Congress's May 24 CVC hearing, AOC has extended the project's scheduled completion and opening dates. The CVC team has continued to move the project's construction forward, but primarily because of significant problems associated with the CVC's fire protection system, gift shops, and utility tunnel, AOC has extended the scheduled completion dates for the base CVC project and the House and Senate expansion spaces by approximately 2-1/2 months, from February 23, 2007, to May 7, 2007, for the CVC, and from May 25, 2007, to August 8, 2007, for the expansion spaces. Furthermore, to allow time for possible additional delays and preparation for operations, AOC is now proposing to open the CVC in July 2007 with a temporary certificate of occupancy and the expansion spaces in August 2007, at which point a final certificate of occupancy will be issued for the CVC. Previously, AOC was planning to open the CVC in April 2007 and the expansion spaces in May 2007. We are reassessing the project schedule, as we stated at Congress's last CVC hearing, and expect to finish our reassessment by mid-September. Pending our reassessment, AOC's new July and August 2007 time frames appear to be reasonable tentative targets for opening the CVC and House and Senate expansion spaces. However, we are not as confident as we would like to be about whether the CVC team will be able to meet the challenges, risks, and uncertainties that continue to face the project, given the difficulties the team has historically had in meeting its targets and milestones. Thus, we expect to have greater confidence in the target opening dates after we complete our schedule reassessment.